Category Archives: South Pacific

Australia: Land Down Under Water

All the flooding in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere has set me to pondering. We humans are an odd lot.  Even though we know better, we build our houses and cities on the slopes of volcanoes, in floodplains, below sea level, on top of fault lines and in the paths of bushfires, tornadoes and hurricanes. Every year tragedy strikes. Volcanoes erupt, rivers flood, fault lines shift, bushfires, forest fires, tornadoes and hurricanes leave a path of destruction. When it is over, we rebuild in the same dangerous places. We usually do this out of necessity…most of us can’t afford to live where we choose. We are fly-trapped by sticky financial necessity.

For example, If your job requires you to live in Los Angeles, San Francisco or some other shaky place, do you abandon your livelihood to seek terra more firma?

If the only place to grow your crops is on the slopes or in the vulnerable vicinity of Mt. Blowapart, do you give up farming to starve on safer ground?

If the only place to build a shelter is to squat on a dangerous piece of ground or be homeless, what would you do?

On the one hand, I feel little pity for the folks with funds to live where they want but build holiday homes on the beach and then get upset because a storm spoils their fun. And then they have the cheek to expect us to help them rebuild. I question the sanity of those who have the resources to reside above sea-level but choose to live below it. Those who carelessly and perilously build in the forest because they love trees must understand that they have surrounded themselves with flammable materials.

On the other hand, there are the disastrous floods in the states of Queensland and Victoria in Australia. I have been in some of these stricken areas in the last year. No one could have foreseen the unceasing deluge that has killed, destroyed and changed lives forever. The sheer size of the flooded areas boggles the mind.  But I know something of the Australian psyche. They may have to live in the same place but Australians are tough folks. They will mourn their dead and then get to work.  After reminding each other, “She’ll be right, mate!” they will sluice out the mud, rebuild and reclaim what they can. God bless them every one!

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Filed under Australia, Current Events, Natural Disaster, South Pacific

The O’Malley Method

“But Mr. O’Malley, you already drilled five wells on your property and they’ve all been dry.  Why do you keep drilling?”

“I keep drilling, hoping for different results.”

“But isn’t that a waste of money and time?”

“Not if I strike water.”

“But how will that ever happen if you keep doing it the same way?”

“Maybe if I use a different method, drill deeper, use better equipment…maybe then I’ll strike water.”

“Have you thought that all that money and time could be spent on piping water from another well or, maybe, a good rainwater harvesting system?”

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” said O’Malley.

So many churches use the “O’Malley Method.”  Just keep doing the same things over and over, hoping for different results.  Our “drilling” is our assembly or, as it is mistakenly called, “The Worship Service.”  It is the method of choice for outreach.  “How do we get them to ‘come to church?’  Oh, I know, let’s make assembly better!  Better singing, exciting sermons, the latest presentation technology, nicer buildings.  Everyone should invite someone to church (assembly).  Okay, I know, it hasn’t worked so far, but maybe we should just try something new…something different.  Let’s have a worship team leading the singing.  Let’s try some dramatic lighting.  Maybe we should get rid of the pulpit and let the preacher wander around.  Maybe he should dress in jeans and polo shirt.

Somehow we have been deceived into thinking that the most important part of Christianity is the assembly.  We focus on what happens when we come together.  It becomes the major event…the “be all and end all.”  Churches fuss about what can and cannot be done in them.  It’s how we judge other churches.  It’s what we divide over.  We measure success by warm bodies in attendance and how much they give in “the offering.”

Here’s the irony: we claim to follow a man who never spoke of an assembly and spent precious little time in them.  Aside from some work in a synagogue or two, he did all his work outside, among the people.  It was not easy or comfortable but it was what he came to do.  He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19) not merely preach to the saved.

If we don’t change our focus from assemblies to following Christ, we are in danger of fading into obscurity.  The church in Australia, America or anywhere else, cannot survive by doing the same ineffective things the same ineffective way and expect effectiveness to magically result.

No one asked for my opinion, but Mr. O’Malley had better change his focus or he will remain dry.  We had better change ours or we will dry up and blow away.

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, Community, discipleship, Evangelism, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, South Pacific

Pinto or Maserati?

murphysinamericansamoa4ha7Is your church (if you are part of one) a Maserati or a Pinto?  My friend Philip Murphy, an attorney in American Samoa, has written an excellent post about how churches (groups of Christians who serve, work and worship together) should see themselves.  It has a lot to do with what our communities think of us.  How they see us has an impact on our evangelism.  See it here and do him the honor of making an intelligent, apropos comment.

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Filed under Change Agent, church, Community, Ekklesia, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, Religion, Respect, South Pacific

Elijah on Jesus

One of the missionaries I helped train, Elijah Peters, works with a team in Auckland.  He has written an exellent article, “One Solution,” that I recommend to all my readers.  It goes so well with my series, “The Jesus Method.”  See if you don’t agree.

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, Community, Ignorance, Jesus Christ, Meaning of Life, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, South Pacific

Satan, the Opportunist

“Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose…(Acts 6:1)”

“When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)”

Success for God is failure for Satan. He will oppose, in any way he can, the progress of the kingdom. We can count on it: when things are looking good, Satan is looking for an opportunity. And, being a thorough demon, he usually finds one.

The church in Jerusalem was enjoying a brief run of popularity. In spite of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, “…the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women were constantly added to their number” (Acts 5:13,14). Then, all Hell broke loose. The first trouble came from outside: the arrest and flogging of apostles with a warning to shut up about Jesus. Then it came from inside with a complaint of unfair distribution of food. When it originates inside the body our out, it is the work of our adversary. Satan will not abide such advancement since it means retreat for him.

It is highly dangerous to discount his ability to disrupt any forward movement on our part. He will shut us down us if we let him. It is wise to aware of his schemes and strategies and to be assured that he will employ them against us. The warnings are clear:

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:26,27).
“…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

It is when disciples are growing numerically and everything looks good that we should be on guard. I have, with my own eyes, seen savage wolves filled with the lust for power, tear successful churches apart. The carnage is horrible.

In the case of Jerusalem, seven godly men were chosen to answer the complaint and the tables were turned on Satan. “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

In Australia, several churches are making decisions and plans to recapture the purpose and mission of the church. God will surely bless such decisions but we must be warned: Satan is also making decisions and plans.

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Filed under Australia, church, Culture Wars, Devil, Ekklesia, Good & Evil, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Missions/Evangelism, morality, Preaching/Teaching, Religion, Salvation, Satan, South Pacific, Supernatural

Gone to Winter

If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog (and who, in their right mind, would not be?) you may have noticed a dearth (shortage) of postings. So, knowing that many, many people are wondering where I am, I feel called upon to inform both of you.

At the moment, I am in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Yes…the land down under. I left the Northern Hemisphere Summer for the Southern Hemisphere Winter. Australia is my “other country,” to which I make yearly trips. I lived here once and fell in love with the people and the land. So, it is a pleasure to return each year to visit friends and churches, do some teaching & preaching, eat Aussie tucker (food) and hear the birds sing. So far I have been to Sydney, Dungog, Maitland, Newcastle and Parramatta. In few days I will head back to Sydney, then Adelaide, then New Zealand and back to Sydney.

I left behind my beautiful wife, Charamon, the Charamon Garden and loving family for a seven-week sojourn. Preparation took a lot of time and precedence over blogging. Getting the garden ready to leave in the capable hands of my family took additional time.

A phone call to my son, Tim, reassured me that all goes and grows well back in the garden. A phone call to my parents (90 year-old father, 88 year-old mother) says they are doing OK (at those ages, good days are treasures) and a phone call to my wife assures me that she still loves me and is missing me. Well, the feeling is very much mutual!

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Filed under Australia, Blogs & Blogging, Home and Garden, Love and Marriage, Missions/Evangelism, Preaching/Teaching, South Pacific, Vegetable Gardening

Garlic and Stacy Peterson

amazed.jpg People are so interesting! Maybe “mystifying” is more accurate. Some weeks ago, I posted a blog regarding the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. It has received over 2,684 views! Other stuff that, it seems to me, is far more important is far less popular. I’m not sure of the psychology of this but it has been surprising to this blogger.

Then there is my seldom-read garden blog: charamongarden.wordpress.com. The most popular post on this blog by far has been a little article about what happens when you don’t weed your garlic patch. Can you believe it? 50 views of “The Garlic Lesson” out of a total of 238! No other post on my garden blog even comes close.

This is not disturbing since the goal of this blog (Whitticisms) was never about numbers. I am gratified when people choose to read my scratchings but my goal is to produce quality writing about a variety of subjects: science, apologetics, religion, politics, literature, current events, etc.

As we begin a new year, I want to thank all who read Whitticisms, Charamongarden and Missionsouthpacific. Very special thanks to all who have commented pro or con. May 2008 be a great year and may God bless us…every one!

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Filed under Blogs & Blogging, Garlic and Onions, Religion, South Pacific, Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening, Whitsett News, Writing